Published Oct 14, 2015State Champs named their sophomore LP after the extended voyage that followed 2013's excellent The Finer Things. Around the World and Back truly sounds like a product of their globetrotting, from vocalist Derek DiScanio's cleaner, widened range (that could only come from countless hours of practice and performance) to the kind of hooks that rival those of recent tour mates 5 Seconds of Summer.
Though it may sound as if the New York band have softened — the pop punkers lean into their pop tendencies here — there's still a distinct harder edge to their sound. This ain't easycore, as the term has now come to represent bands that haphazardly throw breakdowns where they may or may not belong, but they evoke subgenre godfathers New Found Glory on tracks such as opener "Eyes Closed," "All You Are Is History" and "Shape Up."
On the other hand, "Secrets" and "Losing Myself" evoke All Time Low's evolution beyond pop punk, while the subtle orchestrations and subdued palm-muted riffing behind the verses of "All Or Nothing" and the bouncy-but-brooding "Breaking Ground" suggest growth even further beyond that. The acoustic title track finds DiScanio and Jule Vera's Ansley Newman trading verses for the first part before joining together for the track's blissful latter half.
Around the World and Back is far from the final destination for these champions of New York pop punk/rock, but it's a definite step forward on their journey to take the world, and their genre, by storm. (Pure Noise)